The three government approved redress schemes - The Property Ombudsman (TPO), Ombudsman Services: Property and The Property Redress Scheme have today issued a revised version of their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Established to support the ongoing communication between the three redress schemes where relevant, the MOU ensures that any agent with an outstanding award with one scheme will not be accepted by another until that award is settled.
If an agent is expelled from membership by a scheme due to a breach of its Terms of Business, the MOU will now allow for total transparency and the sharing of information with the press, property portals, The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team (NTSEAT) as well as the expelled agents’ local Trading Standards office.
Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, says: “Registering with an approved redress scheme is a legal requirement for both sales and letting agents in England. ‘Naming and shaming’ expelled agents that have not fulfilled their obligations and are not able to legally trade is in the public interest. The scheme responsible for expulsion will provide consumer protection by publicising the news via their website and other media outlets, and will inform regulators within the industry.”
Property Redress Scheme, Sean Hooker, says: “Agents should be fully aware that the consequences of not complying with the decisions of the redress schemes are severe, and that the close cooperation of the schemes will ensure that the consumer can be reassured that they are protected from poor industry practice.”
Ombudsman Services: Property, Lewis Shand Smith, says: “The joint announcement today and our strengthened Memorandum of Understanding should send out a clear signal to all agents that the redress schemes are working collaboratively to drive out poor practice in the industry. This is good news for tenants in the private rental sector who can be confident that our strong working partnership means we are acting together in the interest of all consumers to provide greater protection.”
Other revisions to the MOU relate to the transfer between schemes. These include:
- To clearly define the actions required if an agent makes an application to one scheme having previously been a member of another, but there are ongoing complaints.
- To identify who is responsible when a company changes redress schemes, but a complaint arises where issues occurred during membership with the previous redress scheme.